Originally opened in 1869, the Synagogue of the Congregation of B'nai Israel (Children of Israel) is the oldest standing synagogue in the state of Georgia and one of the oldest in the United States. Its congregants came from nearby Hamburg and Aiken SC as well as the Augusta GA area. Located in the heart of Augusta, GA's Historic District, it stands next to the original Court of Ordinary, built in 1860 which is also historically significant since it is an early fireproof building in Georgia.
In 2015, the news swept through Augusta that the City of Augusta planned to demolish the two historic buildings to make room for additional municipal parking. Augusta's Jewish community, led by a local historian Jack Steinberg (OBM) as well as many others in the CSRA community leaped into the fray to save these two historic structures.
A coalition of concerned citizens was swiftly formed from both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities. They attended every City of Augusta meeting to protest the destruction until the City of Augusta agreed to not demolish the buildings. Leaders of Historic Augusta and members and friends of the Jewish community formed an alliance to restore the buildings and transform them into the Augusta Jewish Museum. The buildings would be completely restored and become a center of learning and awareness for all filled with exhibits and programming chronicling the life, history, and contributions of the Jewish Community in the Central Savannah River Area as well as educate about the Holocaust and Israel, the homeland and the Holyland.
The City of Augusta agreed to give the newly formed Augusta Jewish Museum board five years to raise money, do restoration, and open the museum. City of Augusta leaders agreed that if the Augusta Jewish museum is in operation by July 2021, the City of Augusta will donate both buildings to the Augusta Jewish Museum to enhance the life and culture of the Augusta/CSRA region. If that deadline is missed, the shadows of bulldozers and the wrecking ball might again loom over these historic properties.